29 August 13

Developing Undercover Work at BIRN Summer School

The fourth day of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Summer School programme continued with lectures on undercover operations and research, as well as tips for following paper trails in stories.

Former FBI undercover operative Stephen Salmieri told the journalists participating in the Summer School that undercover investigative work is extremely dangerous, which is why it should be used as sparingly and requires a lot of preparation.

In order to minimise security risks, Salmieri said that journalists working undercover should not change their personality. He also said that journalists should know their targets and research their sources, as well as keep in constant contact with their parent organisation.

"When doing investigations, know everything you can know your enemy. Let go of your ego and reduce tensions. If you come across as aggressive, the situation will quickly escalate," said Salmieri.

A perfect undercover agent, according to Salmieri, is a smart and aware person who listens carefully.

Two times Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Nalder gave the participants of the Summer School tips on how to gather material evidence and documents from companies and organisations. He emphasised the importance of physically going to organisations, carefully interviewing workers and using psychological tricks to control the communication with them.

Nalder also said that after gathering documents, journalists should organise them carefully.

“Always be organised. Use Excel or other spreadsheets to organise your documents, otherwise you might get lost in them,” said Nalder.

British journalist David Leigh also discussed the need to collect documents, but also highlighted that while writing the story, journalists should make sure to provide readers with several points of access.

“Provide photos, interviews, galleries and short clips. Presentation is key. Your story is useless if it does not reach the public,” said Leigh.

The BIRN Summer School is taking place this week in Slovenia with 30 journalists from Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia, France and Romania participating. It will finish on Friday.

The BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting 2013 is organised in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation, the Belgian National Lottery, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the OSCE Mission to Serbia and USAID in Macedonia.

Fill out my online form.

Latest News and Events

birn-serbia-holds-debate-on-country-s-media-future

BIRN Serbia Holds Debate on Country’s Media Future

Traditional media in Serbia will have to adapt to new media and learn from them in order to survive on the market, a BIRN Serbia debate entitled ‘Media in Serbia in 2020’ was told.

birn-albania-seeks-investigations-on-local-government-1

BIRN Albania Seeks Investigations on Local Government

Grants offered for three journalists to cover local government corruption and abuse of power stories as well as mentoring by experienced editors.

documentary-co-produced-by-birn-wins-award

Documentary Co-Produced by BIRN Wins Award

The documentary ‘Flatland without Birds?’, about illegal hunting in Serbia, was named the best Serbian film at the Belgrade International Green Culture Festival, Green Fest.

birn-albania-holds-workshop-on-local-government

BIRN Albania Holds Workshop on Local Government

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable on exposing corrupt practices in local government, bringing together representatives of civil society, experts and journalists.  

seven-serbian-local-authorities-to-continue-budget-project

Seven Serbian Local Authorities to Continue Budget Project

Seven of the ten municipalities that took part in the project designed to draw citizens into decision-making on local budgets in 2015 and 2016 are carrying on with the project in 2017.

birn-albania-journalist-wins-cei-seemo-award

BIRN Albania Journalist Wins CEI SEEMO Award

Lindita Cela wins prestigious prize for ‘hard-hitting investigations’ into organised crime and corruption in Albania.

young-danish-journalists-visit-birn-bih

Young Danish Journalists Visit BIRN BiH

Journalists and students who work with Danish daily newspaper Politiken visited BIRN BiH in Sarajevo. 

al-jazeera-interviews-birn-on-censorship-in-serbia

Al Jazeera Interviews BIRN on ‘Censorship in Serbia’

BIRN was featured in Al Jazeera English’s weekly ‘Listening Post’ media programme as part of a report on alleged censorship in Serbia.

BIRN Albania Launches Call for Investigative Reports on Justice System

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched a call for investigative stories on justice system on November 3.

birn-albania-holds-multimedia-training-for-journalists

BIRN Albania Holds Multimedia Training for Journalists

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a workshop on multimedia techniques for 20 local journalists in the city of Durres.

In This Article

Network